Do you allow your employees do their jobs independently or are you compelled to supervise everything they do? Have you ever heard someone say, "If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself," and agreed with them? Many thoughtful, experienced leaders genuinely believe that they must have to be involved in everything their employees do or it won't go well. We are conditioned from an early age and through much of our work experience to believe that people can't do things for themselves and that only we have the secret to doing things the right way.
This belief system leads to micromanaging, the act of needing to control task your employee is working on whether it's helpful, productive, appropriate, or not. At its most elemental level, micromanaging is the inability to let other people do their jobs. Why do so many leaders do this? Often it is simply because they don't have any other management tools.
There's nothing misguided or awful about micromanaging and it doesn't mean we're bad leaders if we practice it, there are just much more productive strategies to get results in the workplace. When leaders micromanage they promote workplaces that discourage independent thought, decision-making and action and emphasize dependence on the direction giver. Employees can be stopped in their tracks in an environment like this because they are not allowed or encouraged to do anything on their own. You can interrupt the cycle of micromanaging by doing some of the following practical things :
1. Encourage people to do their own work. Get out of the way and let your employees do their jobs without your supervision. This will build their independence and ability to think on their own. When you make it possible for people to work independently, it shows them that you really trust them and value their talents and contributions.
2. Give your employees the chance to demonstrate what they do well. When you understand what your employees do well, you are able to use their gifts to benefit the organization and make your life as a leader more enjoyable. Employees feel valued and important when they use their talents to move the organization forward.
3. Help people and provide your input only when requested. Many leaders feel they have to constantly impart their wisdom or share their expertise. This negates the fact that employees often know how to do things for themselves and don't need your help. Make yourself available and create a real open-door policy where people can bounce things off of you. Otherwise focus on your own job tasks.
4. Look at why you choose to micromanage. We all benefit from understanding the things that behaviors that help us and the ones we might shift a bit to be more effective. Micromanaging is frequently a symptom of an deep inner need to control situations coupled with anxiety when things feel out of control to us. Work on your own issues and you'll be less likely to impose them on others.
5. Believe in a micromanagement free workplace. What might you achieve if you weren't devoting so much time to worrying about what your employees are doing and constantly monitoring them? How might you refocus your energy on other pursuits that would benefit the organization?
Somewhere along the way, some leadership guru said that we have to be a "hands on" leader our organization will crumble. This philosophy does not allow employees to grow or enjoy the learning that comes from achieving things themselves. Genuine growth occurs when employees are encouraged to make decisions and learn from their experiences. As a leader, you get to decide how you lead which, in turn, affects how your workplace functions. Will you constantly micromanage your employees or will you set a leadership example that inspires them?